A couple of days ago, while sitting idly drinking coffee on a lazy Sunday morning, I reached out and did something I rarely do on a Sunday, or any other morning for that matter. I picked up a copy of the Sunday Edition of the Toronto Star, that great promoter and protector of all things LARGE L LIBERAL both Federally and Provincially here in Upper Canada.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to abandon my partisan Conservative leanings and accept that someone other than my politically like-minded friends might have something interesting to say. Every now and again, though, I come across a gem that needs to be read, digested and nurtured, and then accepted as possibly being a thought worthy of consideration.
The piece to which I refer was written by Royson James, a columnist with the Toronto Star, and it was titled A Challenge To The Old Boys Club. The premise of James’ column goes something like this:
Canada, and Canadian society, has become more diverse as we mature as a country, but our diversity has had little influence on our traditional political power structures or our decision-making processes. The Jody Wilson-Raybould appointment to Cabinet, however, showed a marked shift in the way Canada would conduct its political business.
This thread of thought is easy to follow. Prior to the last Federal Election, Justine Trudeau’s new Liberal organization spent a considerable amount of time recruiting a “different” kind of political team. Trudeau promised Canadians that the Liberals were going to do things differently. The new Liberal team would be inclusive, diverse, close to being gender neutral (meaning as many women as possible), and finally and most importantly, that there would be a return to real government by Cabinet, where Cabinet Ministers would fully participate in the operations of the Government of Canada, as opposed to the “top down” system of government that had evolved in Ottawa over the years whereby the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office ran the whole show and simply told Cabinet Ministers, and everyone else, what to do.
Jody Wilson-Raybould just happened to be a law school graduate, a former Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, and a former Crown Prosecutor well versed in the concept of upholding the Rule of Law. She was the ideal “New Liberal” candidate. But she was also a strong and accomplished woman from a background that couldn’t be different from the Old Boys Club that has been in charge of Ottawa since 1867.
It may be another story for another day, but I – an old Conservative hack no less – felt like a proud, a very proud, no indeed, a very very proud Canadian, the day Jody Wilson-Raybould was sworn in as our new Minister of Justice and Attorney General. In a way, this was my “Canadian Obama” moment, and although some people may never understand what I’m saying here, I took Wilson-Raybould’s appointment personally. In a good way, I assure you.
So, we know the story. Ms. Wilson-Raybould was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament in Vancouver Granville in October of 2015 and then appointed to Cabinet as our Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Like all Canadians, Ms. Wilson-Raybould was told that we were living in the new political Canada; a Canada where everyone, including those who are strong, educated, experienced and of different gender and ethnic background, could call the shots. She was the new Attorney General in the new utopia, and she would be Canada’s Chief Prosecutor, our protector of the rule of law, and she would be allowed to do her job without political interference.
And then along came the SNC-Lavalin saga. That story does not need repeating here, other than to say that certain people (meaning the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and others in the Prime Minister’s Office) wanted the Attorney General to ignore the rule of law in favour of political expediency in winning Liberal seats (including the Prime Minister’s seat) in Quebec.
What does need to be said though, if I can use a Newfoundland colloquialism, is that Trudeau has managed to cut a switch to whip his own arse.
You cannot preach to the masses that you are going to conduct government business differently, then recruit non-traditional candidates (meaning candidates who are not career politicians but accomplished professionals in their own right), then tell them they are in charge of their respective portfolios, and then, finally, pull the rug out from under them and expect that they will simply do political business the way it has always been done in Ottawa – meaning the Old Boys Network is still in charge. It is now clear, to all but the most partisan of Liberals, that all of Trudeau’s utopian chatter for the past three and a half years turns out to be Bullcrap.
Royson James has paid Wilson-Raybould the highest compliment here. I simply cannot say it better, so I will quote:
Jody Wilson-Raybould – a lawyer and former Crown attorney, standing on roots that spread deep into the Indigenous community, vastly exceeding political qualifications that sometimes have neophytes and incompetents hold serious positions of power and import – was having none of it. Guided by a different compass, she refused to go along.
This will become a hard lesson for Justine Trudeau. In politics, you simply cannot change the political model and expect that things will no change. And that’s exactly what Trudeau and his PMO tried to do.
Even hardened Conservatives are disappointed in this turn of events.